Can the Celtics Survive the Heat on Their Road to the Finals?

Rahim Ramzanali '23, Sports Editor

After a beautiful performance by the Celtics to take the defending champions out of the playoffs, there is only one obstacle standing in the way of an NBA Finals appearance. The Celtics blew the Bucks out of the water, beating them 109-81 in game seven. Their impressive three-point barrage reached a staggering number of 18 made field goals- the highest in game seven history. Grant Williams was the surprising star of the game, knocking down seven 3-pointers on 18 attempts and earning himself the nickname “Batman.” 

This will be a rematch of the 2020 ECF in the COVID-19 bubble, but this time home court will play a factor. The Heat are the first seed and have not lost a single playoff game this season at home. However, the Celtics have been the best team in the playoffs. They just eliminated the defending champions, Jayson Tatum is slowly evolving into Michael Jordan, and they have the number one rated defense in the league. 

Both teams have experienced major injuries in their starting lineup. Kyle Lowry has been out with a hamstring injury and does not look to return soon. Robert Williams has missed the last four games with a knee injury but has a better return timetable than Kyle Lowry. 

The Celtics are in shape heading into this game, and the same can not be said for the Heat. Even though Jimmy Butler is the X-factor for this team, how much longer can he put the offense on his back? He is known for his insatiable defense and inside scoring, but as of late, his scoring numbers from outside the paint have been on an incline. Throughout the playoffs, he has been shooting 28.7 points per game on 53% shooting and 36% 3-point shooting, 13% greater than the regular season. But, will one player be enough? 

The Celtics didn’t shut down Giannis Antetokounmpo at all during their series with the Bucks, but it didn’t matter. The rest of the team hardly helped on the offensive end, shooting 12% from 3-point range in game seven. Even if the Celtics can not shut down Jimmy Butler, past events suggest that one person is not enough to break their defense. 

On the other end of the floor, the Heat are not looking too hot in their defense against the Celtics’ shooting. They made 53 more 3-pointers than the Bucks, the highest differential in playoff series history. Their 110 threes were the third most in any playoff series. 

During this season, the Bucks allowed opponents to take 44.8% of their shots from the three-point range. The only team that was higher than them was the Heat. They allowed 45.6% of their opponents’ shots to be three-pointers, and in their season series versus the Celtics, they allowed 48.6%. If the Celtics continue to shatter playoff records from behind the arc, the Miami Heat will have to find different advantages. 

The Heat have the best home-court advantage in the East. They went 29-12 in the regular season and 6-0 in the playoffs. However, the Celtics are 4-1 on the road in the playoffs and saved their season with a huge win in Milwaukee in game six. They also came off a big win in game seven versus the Bucks, and are going to ride that momentum through this series. Through the Heat’s offensive struggles and the Celtics’ proven depth, I believe the Celtics will win this series in 6 games.